Activist 'not surprised'
Diane Wilson, an activist and local shrimper who has protested against the company — a campaign that culminated in August 2002, when she chained herself to one of the plant's towers — said a serious incident was bound to happen.
"When Formosa was building this plant we had so much evidence about the shoddy way it was put together and the poor quality of the work," said Wilson, who was in New York City promoting her first book An Unreasonable Woman, about her fight against large petrochemical companies. "I'm not surprised at all."
Last April, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality fined the facility $150,000 for violations of air pollution laws that included releases of toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride.
Over the past decade, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has inspected the Point Comfort plant a dozen times, five of them resulting in violations, OSHA online records show.
In 1994, the company completed a $1.5 billion expansion, building its first olefins unit. In 1997, the plant underwent a second $1 billion expansion, in which it constructed a second olefins unit - the part of the plant that erupted Thursday.
The San Diego Tribune wrote in their review of the book just recently the following:
Local story Published on Friday, October 7, 2005 by the Houston Chronicle
"For the American environmental movement, An Unreasonable Woman could not come at a better time. Citizens across the political spectrum are growing alarmed at the Bush administration's rollback of protective legislation for water, air and national parks. This book does for environmentalism what "All the President's Men did for government reform. Watch for the movie."
Diane is now on a national book tour. Last week she was interviewed on the nationally broadcast radio program, The Diane Rehm Show. Reviews of her book appeared in many newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor. This past Monday her lawyer called to say that the court said Diane was required to report to jail on Friday! Back in 2002 she staged an action at the local Union Carbide plant and Dow charged her with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, of which she was found guilty and sentenced to 4-6 months of jail time. But as of last week she was still awaiting instructions on when to report to jail. The jail in her county has been condemned, and her lawyer had initially heard that her sentence would not begin until the new jail, under construction, opened in early 2006. It is now felt that Dow is trying to shut her up. In any case, she is refusing to go back to Texas until after she appears at the Bioneers Conference for several workshops in addition to the keynote address. And she refuses to serve her sentence until Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide reports to jail to serve his sentence.
Anderson, as the key representative of Union Carbide, has been an "absconder from justice" for the past 13 years for failure to face manslauter charges (among others) brought by chief judicial magistrate's court of Bhopal, India. The December 3, 1984 explosion at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal that has to date killed over 20,000 Indians. Anderson, meanwhile, continues to live comfortably in his Bridgehampton, Long Island home.